Kalamazoo College’s first-year students will take an important first step in connecting with each other and with faculty and staff when the 2021 Summer Common Reading author visits campus this week.
Marianne Chan is the author of All Heathens, which was the winner of the 2021 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award in Poetry and the 2021 Ohioana Book Award in Poetry. She will participate in a book reading and signing with students on Thursday and a student colloquium Friday morning at Stetson Chapel.
In her 2020 book, Chan navigates her Filipino heritage by grappling with notions of diaspora, circumnavigation and discovery by revisiting Magellan’s voyage around the world. The author’s poems have been published in Michigan Quarterly Review, Cincinnati Review, West Branch, Rumpus and elsewhere. From 2017 to 2019, she served Split Lip Magazine as its poetry editor.
Chan grew up between Stuttgart, Germany, and Lansing, Michigan, before earning a Bachelor of Arts in English from Michigan State University. She went on to study poetry at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she earned her Master of Fine Arts. She now lives in Cincinnati with her partner, Clancy, and her cat, Bella, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in English and creative writing at the University of Cincinnati.
Chan’s appearance at K will cap the Class of 2025’s experience with the Summer Common Reading program, which connects the K community in conversations about their book. Frequently, the author returns in four years to speak at the class’s Commencement.
A Kalamazoo College alumna, who served as the chief strategic communication adviser in Kabul, Afghanistan at the end of Operation Enduring Freedom, will deliver the keynote at K’s Convocation on Thursday, September 9.
Kim Osborne ’93 will help welcome 394 first-year students to the campus as the College opens the 2021-22 academic year at 3 p.m. on the Quad. The annual event serves as the first of two bookends to the K experience with the other being Commencement. President Jorge G. Gonzalez and Provost Danette Ifert Johnson also will address attendees. Chaplain Elizabeth Candido ’00 will provide an invocation.
Osborne was the highest-ranking civilian communication adviser to the Afghan National Security Forces. She is a trusted adviser to U.S. and foreign governments, multinational corporations, international nongovernmental organizations, top-tier universities and large nonprofits. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Myanmar at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement in 2018. In 2016, Osborne was an invited speaker at the NATO Strategic Communication Centre of Excellence in Riga, Latvia, where she addressed military and diplomatic leaders from NATO partner nations about how best practices from the commercial sector can be applied in military and diplomatic missions.
In further involvement, Osborne serves multiple professional and nonprofit organizations. She is a past board member to the National Association for Media Literacy Education, and serves as a founding strategic adviser to the Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship. She also is a local board member and disaster services responder with the American Red Cross and has responded to several natural disasters including the recent California wildfires, Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Florence in North Carolina.
All students, families, faculty and staff are invited to attend Convocation. For more information on the event, visit kzoo.edu/convocation.
Incoming Kalamazoo College students have several great sources for information on what to bring to campus this fall including Residential Living’s online guidance and advice from recent alumni such as Lezlie Lull ’20.
Lull, an admission counselor at K, lived on campus for two years including one as a resident assistant in Crissey Hall. Now, she has conversations with prospective students that include her advice for residence hall life.
“Some students come in very worried about having never shared a room before,” Lull said. “I make sure that they’re aware of knowing how we match roommates and their ability to contact a roommate in advance.”
After easing those concerns, and given her first-hand experience, Lull suggests considering what not to bring, communicating early and often with roommates, and including a few personal items that can make your room feel more like home and smooth your transition on move-in day, September 8.
What not to bring
Lull said what not to bring to campus is just as important as what to bring. Residential Living has a list of prohibited items. Plus, the idea that less is more can save space in close quarters.
“More often than not, I had too much in my room my first year,” she said. “I often thought, ‘Why do I have all of this?’”
A convenience item such as a microwave might seem like a good idea, she said, yet each hall lounge has one that’s immediately available, so it might not be a critical item. Rethink bringing anything that might just take up space or anything you can buy later in Kalamazoo. Residential Life doesn’t keep floor-plan measurements for specific rooms. However, students may look at pictures of residence hall rooms in K’s virtual tour to estimate their potential floor space and where space might be tight.
The one exception to the less-is-more idea might be cold-weather clothing.
“One thing for some—for out-of-state students especially—would be the importance of bringing sweaters and winter coats,” Lull said. “When the first cold weather comes in October, many are stuck with only a pair of jeans and flip flops.”
Communication is key
Even someone who is shy will benefit from reaching out to their assigned roommate before arriving on campus. K students living on campus this fall should already have received their room assignment with their roommate’s name and kzoo.edu email address. Sometimes the benefit is ensuring you don’t bring more than one of the same item. Other times, it helps set agreements between roommates as they get to know each other’s personal routines.
“My first roommate and I weren’t the best of friends, but we got along in the necessary areas,” Lull said. “I think the issues we had were all a lack of communication, whether that was in the moving process or later on. I think it’s a lot easier if you can talk to them in advance, so you don’t show up with two coffeemakers, two refrigerators or multiple items of everything in the room.”
Home sweet home
When packing, think about bringing a couple personal items you can set up out of the way to help your space feel a little more like home.
“A lot of our decorations were things we could sit on our desk or put on the walls with sticky tape,” Lull said. “I also had window stickers we could put up. Other than that, we didn’t necessarily have a ton of stuff. I had string lights to hang pictures from home. My mom made me a pillow that had a picture of me and my dog on it. We also got rugs for the tile floor.”
The week ahead
After you’re settled, the adventure of orientation begins. A schedule for orientation is available at the first-year experience website, and Lull suggests participating as much as possible.
“I think orientation is a really good time to meet a lot of people,” she said. “Some people don’t take advantage of that. Some think, ‘Well, I’m really tired at 8 a.m. They’re not going to know if I don’t show up.’ But how many people are you not meeting because you weren’t there? I think students should be open minded and ready to meet and do everything. Buy coffee if you need to wake up, dress in layers if it’s cool in the morning, and take a water bottle with you in case it gets hot.”
A first-year seminar this term is giving 14 Kalamazoo College students a chance to see critically acclaimed art created by a professional painter who once attended K herself.
Organized by the Studio Museum in Harlem and the American Federation of Arts, Black Refractions: Highlights from the Studio Museum in Harlem, is an exhibit on display at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA) through Dec. 8; it features two works by Julie Mehretu ’92 among 78 other artists of African descent. The exhibit began traveling in 2018 in celebration of the Studio Museum’s 50th anniversary. It opened in San Francisco at the Museum of the African Diaspora, and Kalamazoo is the exhibition’s only stop in the Midwest.
For the public, the exhibit creates dialogue regarding the artists, many of whom are inspired by current events, while expanding a viewer’s understanding of modern art and addressing themes that affect Kalamazoo and the nation such as poverty, identity, power, status and social justice.
For the K students taking the seminar titled “In Defense of Ourselves: African American Women Artists” specifically, it’s a chance to witness original work from an alumna whose art is usually seen in bigger cities, alongside pieces from artists such as Kehinde Wiley, Elizabeth Catlett, Thornton Dial, Barkley Hendricks, Kori Newkirk, Norman Lewis and Howardena Pindell — household names among art historians and curators, as well as Black artists.
The class may be offered again in future terms, although the fall course was designed specifically for Black Refractions, giving students a distinct chance to observe Mehretu’s work firsthand.
“Oh, they love her work,” said fari nzinga, who teaches the course, of how the students have reacted to seeing Mehretu’s creations. nzinga is a visiting assistant professor of art at K and post-doctoral curatorial fellow at the KIA.
“When I first saw one of Mehretu’s paintings, I was intimidated by its size and scale, as well as its complexity,” she said. “It’s abstract and I felt like I didn’t have the tools to engage with it and interpret it for myself. But actually, my students have not responded in the same way I did all those years ago. They see connections and stories and aren’t afraid to trust their own instincts. I love to see it.”
nzinga earned her master’s degree and doctorate in cultural anthropology from Duke University. She was based in New Orleans for nearly a decade and conducted dissertation research on Black-led arts organizations and community building after Hurricane Katrina. She also worked for two years at the New Orleans Museum of Art, where she facilitated institutional transformation around issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. In April 2018, she independently produced and curated an exhibition, “The Rent Is Too Damn High,” in celebration of the New Orleans tri-centennial.
nzinga came to Kalamazoo when she got to know KIA Executive Director Belinda Tate and it was clear a joint position between K and KIA would be available. The hope is that students taking this course will see what Mehretu has accomplished and feel that they too can one day change the world.
“I feel like they are teaching me so much,” nzinga said. “Because the students are in their first semester of college, K hasn’t really crystallized for them yet, so I’m excited to see how they make meaning of the institution and make it their own as they grow and develop. I think seeing Mehretu’s work right up front at the beginning of their time here will be something that guides them, just an example of what they can do here if they want to and that’s powerful. I hope they feel empowered.”
Students new to Kalamazoo College will take an important first step in connecting with each other and with faculty and staff when the 2019 Summer Common Reading author visits campus on Friday, Sept. 13.
Jaroslav Kalfař, the author of the science-fiction novel Spaceman of Bohemia, will discuss his 2017 book and answer questions from students in a colloquium at Stetson Chapel. Kalfař’s appearance will cap the class of 2023’s experience with K’s Summer Common Reading program which joins the Kalamazoo College community in conversations about their book. Frequently, the author returns in four years to speak at the class’s Commencement.
Spaceman of Bohemia tells the story of orphan Jakub Procházka, who becomes Czechoslovakia’s first astronaut, after being raised by his grandparents. His dangerous solo mission to Venus offers him a chance to be a hero while atoning for his father’s sins as a Communist informer.
As he’s alone in space, Jakub befriends a possibly imaginary giant alien spider. The two conduct philosophical conversations about love, life and death, forming an emotional bond, helping Jakub through clashes with Russian rivals in attempting to return to Earth.
Kalfař was born in 1988 in the Czech Republic, moving to the U.S. at age 15. He earned an M.F.A. from New York University, where he was a Goldwater Fellow and a nominee for the first E.L. Doctorow Prize. He is a recipient of the 2018 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship. Spaceman of Bohemia is his first novel and the book was a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, The Arthur C. Clarke Award Science Fiction Book of the Year and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.
The Summer Common Reading program is a key component of K’s first-year experience program, which ties hands-on experiential learning, advising, first-year forums and seminars, assistance from peer leaders and Residential Life to guide new students through their transition to college.
The first-year experience program helps K students achieve academic success, identify and pursue passions, connect with Kalamazoo College and the greater community, develop intercultural understanding and build a purpose-filled life.
Kalamazoo College will welcome 398 first-year students and their families to the 2019-20 academic year at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, during Convocation.
The ceremony, serving as the first of two bookends to the K experience with the other being graduation, will take place on the Lower Quad. The ceremony’s rain site will be Stetson Chapel.
K’s first-year students include 29 degree-seeking international students, plus 10 transfer students and 19 visiting international students. New students will attend K from 29 states including Illinois, California, Texas and Minnesota, and 15 countries including Jamaica, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. Students of color from the U.S. make up about 36 percent of the incoming class. Twenty-four percent of the incoming class will be the first in their families to attend college.
President Jorge G. Gonzalez, Provost Danette Ifert Johnson, Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students Sarah Westfall, Chaplain Elizabeth Candido ’00, faculty, staff and student leaders will welcome new students and their families. Convocation will conclude with new students signing the Matriculation Book.
Martin Acosta ’97, the founder and CEO of Inalproces and Kiwa, will deliver this year’s keynote address. Acosta was an international student from Ecuador who studied economics and business at K, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. After receiving a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science and an M.B.A. from INSEAD, he became an entrepreneur, professor and business consultant.
In 2009, Acosta and his wife, Natalie, wanted to make a difference for the people of Ecuador. In 2009, they launched Kiwa. Kiwa works directly with farmers in Ecuador and northern Peru to turn native vegetables like Andean potatoes and beets into snack foods for a worldwide market, helping these farmers escape poverty. Today, Kiwa is a global brand of premium vegetable chips sold in more than 30 countries. Kiwa has won international awards for innovation and corporate social responsibility as it strives to fulfill its mission to provide quality, innovative snacks that are friendly to the environment and beneficial to everyone.
Move-in day is an exciting time at Kalamazoo College and we’re eager to welcome the Class of 2023. Orientation-related events will continue throughout the week, but here’s what students and families can expect Tuesday, Sept. 10, when they arrive.
When You Arrive
Student move-in day will run from 9 a.m.—3 p.m. on Sept. 10.
The morning is traditionally the busiest time for moving in, and families are encouraged to move in and pick up their orientation packets at times throughout the day to avoid crowds. Peer leaders will be available at check-in tables at Harmon, Hoben and Trowbridge halls. DeWaters residents should check in at Trowbridge Hall. Residential Life staff also will be on hand to give students their College IDs and room keys.
Students and families who expect to be delayed until after 3 p.m. should contact Student Development at email@example.com or 269.337.7210 as soon as possible.
Residential Life requires that health verification forms be complete before students move in. Students with incomplete health information will be directed to the Health Center at Hicks Student Center. Health Center staff will be available from 9 a.m.—4 p.m.
College representatives will staff an information table from 9 a.m.—5 p.m. at Hicks Student Center. Stop by for schedules, maps, directions and answers to any questions you might have. K’s bookstore will be open during the same hours in Hicks, offering 20 percent off Kalamazoo College imprinted items.
Connect to the Network
Students who have questions about connecting to K’s wireless network can meet Information Services staff from 1—4 p.m. in the main lounges at Harmon, Hoben and Trowbridge halls.
Families are welcome to have dinner between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on campus at Welles Dining Hall or go off campus to local restaurants. New students may use their student ID, which also serves as a meal card, to access the dining hall. Families may pay $10.50 per person at the dining hall entrance.
Meet your first-year seminar group and peer leaders from 7—7:45 p.m. in the first-year seminar rooms to talk about the orientation schedule.
President Jorge G. Gonzalez, Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students Sarah Westfall, Provost Danette Ifert Johnson and Associate Dean of Students Dana Jansma will greet parents and families from 3:30—4:45 p.m. at Stetson Chapel.
Later, Gonzalez, Westfall, First-Year Class Dean Jennifer Einspahr, College Chaplain Liz Candido, peer leaders and the Office of Student Involvement will conduct the Hornet Student Welcome from 8—8:45 p.m. at Stetson Chapel. Students should sit with their seminar groups. The event concludes with seminar groups connecting with their peer leaders.
K will welcome 410 first-year students, including 22 degree-seeking international students, plus 16 transfer students and 20 visiting international students at Convocation 2018. New students will attend K from 24 states including Colorado, California, Texas and Maryland, and 13 countries including Spain, South Korea, Zimbabwe and Pakistan. Students of color from the U.S. make up more than 32 percent of the incoming class. Twenty percent of the incoming class will be the first in their families to attend college.
President Jorge G. Gonzalez, Interim Provost Laura Furge, Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students Sarah Westfall, Chaplain Elizabeth Candido ’00, faculty, staff and student leaders will welcome new students and their families. Convocation 2018 will conclude with new students signing the Matriculation Book.
Michael McFall ’93, the co-president and chief executive officer of BIGGBY Coffee, will deliver the keynote address. BIGGBY is a regional retail coffee franchise with more than 270 stores open or under contract across Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Florida, Texas and New Jersey, according to the company’s website.
McFall has a bachelor’s degree in economics, four athletic varsity letters in golf and the value derived from a study abroad experience in Sierra Leone to show for his years at K. Since then, he has pioneered BIGGBY’s successful independent-owner business model and he is developing some exciting lines of new business within the company.
McFall lives in Ann Arbor with his wife and three children. He visits K for events such as the College’s Career Summit, which offers students two days of networking with executives and venture capitalists in preparation for Life after K. Hear from McFall regarding the Career Summit beginning at 1:39 in the video below.
Incoming students who participate in LandSea, Kalamazoo College’s outdoor orientation program, have opportunities to meet their peers, gain self-confidence, earn a partial physical education credit and develop classroom skills even before moving to campus. Two K administrators will attest to that after participating in and reaffirming the program’s success.
Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students Sarah Westfall and Associate Dean of Students Brian Dietz traveled to the 6-million-acre Adirondack State Park in New York State to observe and experience the outdoor orientation program, ongoing through Sept. 3, and meet many of the 66 students participating. The 18-day program is in its 44th year, and was among the first of its kind in the country.
The state park features the largest system of hiking trails in the country, along with 3,000 lakes and ponds, 1,200 miles of rivers, and the state’s highest mountains. K students are divided into six to nine patrols for the outdoor orientation program, with at least two trained leaders per patrol. After three days of training, they challenge themselves on the rivers, lakes, trails and peaks through one of two choose-your-own adventures, Expedition or Basecamp, both with a climb-and-rappel day, a service-and-reflection component and a day of rafting.
The Expedition adventure consists of backpacking and canoeing, and allows participants the choice of extending the distance of the backpacking or canoeing portion of the trip. The Basecamp adventure offers more of a group camping experience, with bunks in canvas tents at Massawepie Lake. The students build skills including canoeing, hiking and backpacking, with opportunities for day trips and expanded service projects.
Friendships that begin during LandSea often remain fundamental connections for a lifetime. Plus, participants of outdoor orientation trips such as LandSea are more likely to develop social connectedness, feelings of belonging, campus involvement and independence with increased retention rates and higher grade-point averages. To best understand these benefits, Westfall and Dietz said it was important to examine the program first hand.
“We’ve always thought LandSea was great, although we’re paid to worry,” Westfall said.
Westfall and Dietz, though, saw how Outdoor Programs Director Jory Horner and Assistant Director Sara Stockwood had the students prepared for everything from necessities such as water sterilization, to common challenges such as hot days and cold nights, to possible emergencies such as lightning storms.
“Any student who comes to K should do this,” Westfall said. “Don’t let finances be a barrier because Outdoor Programs helps find gear for participants, and scholarships are available to help cover other program costs for students who demonstrate financial need. And don’t let a thought like ‘I don’t camp’ be a barrier. This program is for everyone. We hear from families who say their student is a different person after LandSea.”
The success of the program, Dietz said, is evaluated long-term based on whether the participating students stay at K and graduate, gain confidence, maintain their friendships as alumni, recognize their growth and learn about environmental responsibility. Here’s what some students have said:
“It is unforgettable, and when you climb a mountain, it teaches you that you can overcome any obstacle.”
“It was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ll carry it with me forever.”
“I had never been to LandSea,” Dietz said. “I was intrigued by the logistics with it being in a 6-million-acre park, but you never know what it’s like until you see it. All the work (Horner and Stockwood) do is amazing. It’s neat to see new students in that element.”
When Mattie Del Toro ’20 reflects on choosing Kalamazoo College, she remembers an experience brought to her by the letter K.
As a high school senior, Del Toro attended a Colleges That Change Lives fair near her hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico, where a good friend had been looking into Knox College. Next to the Knox table, among the Ks and in alphabetical order, was Kalamazoo College.
“I remember thinking, ‘Is (Kalamazoo) the name of a city from a Dr. Seuss book? There’s no way that’s a real place,’ ” says Del Toro, a business and art history major and studio art minor. “I thought if anything it had to be a college named after someone rather than the name of a city.”
“I fell in love with the campus,” says Del Toro, who ended up enrolling at K. “I graduated with a high school class of 50, and when I saw how small and intimate the school is, I was sold. I received a great financial aid offer that made it about the same in terms of affordability as the University of New Mexico, and it was a chance to go across the country for the whole liberal arts experience.”
Talk with Your Roommate About What to Bring to Campus
K students living on campus this fall should already have received their room assignment with their roommate’s name and kzoo.edu email address. Del Toro suggests contacting your roommate to arrange who will bring what, especially if at least one of you is coming from a considerable distance.
Del Toro, for example, arrived in Kalamazoo for her first year by plane with her mom and then-boyfriend, now fiancé, bringing Del Toro’s belongings in a total of nine suitcases. Appliances, for example, weren’t an option for her.
“What you bring might depend on whether you’re from Michigan or someplace farther,” she said, adding that a roommate brought a microwave, curtains and mini-fridge, which she was happy to stock with food.
Shop for What You Can in Kalamazoo
Nine suitcases might not sound like much for transporting everything someone might need for an entire term. Del Toro, however, admits she packed too much and advises that less is more.
“When I left for fall, I packed stuff that I took home during winter break,” Del Toro said. Those items included several blankets and some heavy winter gear after she realized she only needed some long-sleeve shirts, jeans and jackets for the crisp weather that arrives late in the fall term.
When those items and other bulky items are necessary, shop for them in Kalamazoo or place online orders from your hometown and pick them up in Kalamazoo. Del Toro says to consider items such as mattress pads, shower caddies and “items that Mom would normally provide,” such as cleaning supplies and laundry detergent.
Preview Your Room Space
Residential Life doesn’t keep floor-plan measurements for specific rooms. Del Toro, however, advises that students look at pictures of residence hall rooms in K’s virtual tour to estimate their potential floor space. Those visuals should provide ideas as to where students can put items such as small cabinets and bins.
“You get a closet and drawers, but it’s beneficial to have bins and totes of your own as well,” Del Toro said. “I quickly realized I didn’t have the surface area I needed for certain items, and the virtual tour would’ve helped me plan better.”
Make Your Room Your Home
Del Toro says that on a residential campus such as K’s, it’s important that students make their residence hall room their home.
Items such as rugs, pictures of family and friends, twinkle lights suspended through adhesive hooks, and small pieces of furniture negotiated with roommates can ward off homesickness and make your room feel like an owned space.
“I didn’t want to get so comfortable in my space that I disrespected my roommate,” she said. “But any home goods can give you more than a brick wall, a desk and a bed,” allowing for greater comfort.